Choosing Security Services for Your New Home: Experts Weigh In

Posted on Dec 22, 2020


According to a recent survey by safety.com, only about 38% of American households have a home security system. The recent growth in smart home devices and security that can connect seamlessly with one’s phone, however, has reignited homeowner interest in security systems. 

New homeowners may be considering whether a home security system is something they want for their house - so here’s what you need to know.

Do Home Security Services Work? 

Home security companies have an incentive to make us feel frightened of crime - but is there a proven link between home security systems and home safety? According to US News and World Report, the answer is yes. Studies have shown that, if potential burglars are aware of the existence of a home security system, they will typically leave to choose a less protected home. According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, a trade association: “homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.”

Although burglaries are fairly rare, they occur at a rate of 82.9 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants per year, according to FBI data.

Today, homeowners can choose from 24/7 professional monitoring from home security companies, and self monitored home security systems. A professionally monitored system will call the police for you if an alarm is triggered, whereas a self-monitored system sends an alert to your smartphone. For budget-conscious consumers, a self-monitored system can often be purchased without paying for an ongoing subscription.

Three top rated home security systems:

That said: can you fake it?

There’s plenty of stickers and home security yard signs you can buy for a few dollars that warn potential trespassers that you have a home security system, or “warning: 24 hour surveillance.” After all, the only way the thief can test this is by actually breaking into your home.

A sticker may be enough to deter some criminals, especially unplanned crimes of opportunity. According to Angie’s List, however, many burglaries are targeted, with criminals observing daily routines and more. Angie's List points out that criminals have access to the same internet searches we do: they know people are using fake signs, and can easily scan a security sign to see if it’s easily bought on Amazon or eBay - at which point the jig is up.

“A sticker is definitely a ‘layer of security’ but it is only one layer, and it is not an actual line of defense. It doesn't do anything but psych out the burglar and you can't count on a burglar to be rational,” advises Robert Siciliano, Cyber Social Identity Protection instructor at ProtectNow, a real estate security awareness training firm.

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Doorbell Cameras

With the rise of Amazon deliveries and online shopping in general, porch thefts have become way more common - according to CNBC, over a third of Americans have been victims to “porch pirates.”

Luckily, doorbell cameras are now available at affordable, entry-level prices and allow homeowners to monitor their doors from their smartphones. This can allow for additional convenience - such as knowing when someone stops by during the day, or being able to check who’s knocking while still being on the top floor. 

Today, doorbells allow for two-way audio and video connections, facial recognition, and automatic alerts depending on which model and brand you opt for. 

For homeowners who may not want to bother with an entire home security system, but want the comfort of being able to check in on their home, many doorbell cameras can serve as a useful stand-in. 

Three top doorbell cameras:

The Illusion of Occupancy

We’ve discussed how to deter burglars from breaking into your unoccupied home: but what about using technology to make it seem as if you’ve never left? 

“Burglars love to target unoccupied homes as it provides them ample time to break in and make a getaway without risking a confrontation. This is as true during the day, when out to work, as it is over the holidays, when homes may be vacant for weeks at a time,” explains Daniel Walsh, owner of Smart Home Perfected.

That’s where smart home technology can help: if you can provide an illusion that your home is occupied even when you’re not around, it can be a powerful deterrent to crime. 

Smart home technology can help your home appear active and fully occupied even when you are not there. “Smart bulbs can be easily configured to come on during the day and night, lighting up the hallways and bedrooms. Smart plugs can be connected to lamps, radios, or even TVs, simulating activity within the home. Smart blinds and motorized curtains can automatically open in the morning and close in the evening,” notes Walsh.

“While it may sound like something from the movie HomeAlone, a lot of this can be configured in just a few minutes, for less than $50! All of this paints a picture of an active home and helps deter opportunistic burglars, searching for an easy target.”

Smart Locks

Securing your home isn’t just about keeping burglars out - it’s also about feeling comfortable with who you let in. Many homeowners employ dog walkers, cleaners, or babysitters, or may have friends or family members who drop by frequently. Smart locks connect via Bluetooth to mobile devices and can be used as an alternative to giving out your key to people who might lose or misplace it. 

They can also give you more control over your home, allowing someone to stop by unplanned even while you’re in the middle of work or out of town with remote unlocking.

Although smartphone access is the most common, homeowners can also opt for fingerprint recognition, custom codes, or voice recognition.

Have you ever forgotten to lock your door and only realized it upon returning home? Smart locks can solve both these issues. Most devices are capable of establishing a geofence - if your phone gets a certain distance from your phone, the door will automatically lock. The New York Times has documented before how many people, even in large cities, are surprisingly adverse to locking their door when they leave - having a smart lock can remove the annoyance of searching for a key, while still maintaining security and privacy.

Three well-rated smart locks: 

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August Smart Lock

Can a Home Security System Lower Your Homeowner’s Insurance?

On average, American homeowners pay $1,200 every year in homeowner's insurance - however, this number can vary greatly depending on the size of the home and the state.

One advantage of having a home security system is that it can lower the price of your homeowner’s insurance, effectively helping to pay for itself. 

Although rates can vary widely - depending on both the individual insurance company and what type of security measures you’ve opted for - you can generally expect a discount of 2-10% off your premium. Quote Wizard has a list of home insurers that give the biggest discounts for home security systems, with MetLife, Erie, and State Farm ranking at the top.

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